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Saying 'I Do' to a Tiny Grain Silo Home

Christoph Kaiser finishes his latest sketch, while Shauna Thibault chops vegetables. It’s a delicate dance in 366 square feet, but the newlyweds aren’t fazed.

“There’s something about living in a small space that simplifies life,” Kaiser explains. “It quiets the mind, in a way.”

The couple isn’t renting a micro-apartment, although their urban Phoenix lifestyle might make you think so. They live in a grain silo.

“I think there was a healthy level of skepticism from our friends and family when they found out we were going to attempt to live in a grain silo,” says Thibault. “But we love it. … It’s not just an experiment.”

The stylist and boutique owner has always been drawn to minimalist living. And for her husband, an architect, unique dwellings pose the ultimate design challenge.

“What can you live in and still have a sense of home?” Kaiser says. “It’s easy to cram all the parts that you need to live in something. It’s easy to build it, even – relatively speaking. … The real challenge is to end up with a piece of architecture that actually feeds your soul, as opposed to draining it.”IMG_7551

But Kaiser didn’t wake up with the idea to turn the silo into a home. The rusted, metal cylinder was originally a Craigslist find to store his garden tools. Then, with his wedding date approaching, he started drawing up plans with his architecture and design firm.

“Once we started, it was about an 18-month process with a few breaks in between where I would run out of money and have to make money, so I could invest some more,” Kaiser explains. “At a certain point, we were just like, ‘Oh my goodness, we’ve been anticipating living in this project for such a long time.’”

Unique projects bring unique challenges – and the silo has had its fair share. With most furniture and appliances designed on a 90-degree angle, Kaiser had to figure out how to fashion a home in a curved space. He ended up building everything from the kitchen cabinets to the doors himself.

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A giant glass door on wheels serves as an entrypoint into the backyard, and a way to open up the space.

“To have the benefit of outdoor space, which is an extension of the living space, is huge,” Kaiser says. “Whether you’re sitting inside and have this 10-foot-rolling door open and you just have a view you can experience … or you’re outside enjoying it directly, I think it was definitely something we considered as part of the floor plan.”

“You can sit and read and, ‘Oh, let’s pick a few weeds,’ and then bring some produce inside,” Thibault adds. “Everything is very fluid.”

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But when the couple experienced their first storm in the house, indoor-outdoor living became a little too real.

“We had water coming in through the front door, water coming in through the radius door,” Kaiser recalls. “That was not a fun night for me, because it’s kind of my responsibility to make sure this thing actually works, and all of a sudden these things were failing.”

The couple also had to figure out how to make a functional space for two when they don’t have rooms, per se, other than a teeny bathroom. They ended up creating a separate sleeping loft, where Thibault loves to watch movies in bed.

“You feel like you’re at the IMAX,” she says. “You can lie in bed, and it projects arced on the wall. Subwoofers are hidden underneath the bed, so everything kind of shakes. You can watch ‘Jaws’ in full format. It’s pretty great.”

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Kaiser says the space has brought the newlyweds closer.

“I think there’s an intimacy that’s imposed on people when they’re in one space. You can’t find that separation,” he says. “… It makes you confront issues more, and it really brings you together.”

“I think we’ve learned a lot about our dynamics, and the way that we work and accomplish things,” Thibault adds. “[It’s] very coupling.”

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They’ve also had to learn how to live with (a lot) less.

“We had to do a pretty serious pare-down of our stuff to move in here, and that honestly just keeps continuing,” Thibault says. “I think he has more shoes [than I do].”

“She has more shoes,” Kaiser replies with a smile. “There’s no contest.”

No matter how many pairs of shoes, the couple says they wouldn’t trade their out-of-the-box living experience.

“Home can be so many things,” Kaiser says. “… The ability for people to fashion that to their own liking is a beautiful freedom that we have.”

Video by Craig Schwisow and Tom Hanny. Photos by Matt Winquist; design sketch by Christoph Kaiser.

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Originally published August 3, 2016.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Lists Second Home in a Month

shutterstock_383516680Now that he finally has an Oscar, Leonardo DiCaprio is narrowing the number of homes in which he can display it. The leading man has listed his home in Studio City for $2.395 million, just a week after putting his Malibu beach house on the market.

Not to worry: DiCaprio still owns multiple other homes, including in the Hollywood Hills, Palm Springs and New York City. And he’s headed to another home — the White House — next week to discuss climate change with President Obama at South by South Lawn: A White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action.

Although it’s no celebrity mansion, the 3,407-square-foot mid-century modern home in Studio City checks all the luxury-living boxes, from the well-appointed chef’s kitchen with vaulted ceilings and exposed beams, to the master suite with a garden tub and French doors that open onto the swimming pool.

Set on a third of an acre, it’s a rare forested hideaway in the city, with bamboo floors and walls of glass for taking in the lush landscape. The open floorplan includes expansive living and family rooms, each with a fireplace. They flow into a formal dining room right off the kitchen, which includes a breakfast nook.

A mirrored built-in bar in the family room calls to mind a more gracious era, while floor-to-ceiling windows across the entire back of the house lend a sense of nature and the great outdoors even while you’re cozy inside.

Many of the windows are actually doors that open onto a large lawn with a deck and pergola for Hollywood-style outdoor entertaining.

The listing agent is Michael Okun of Sotheby’s International Realty. Hat tip to TMZ for finding the listing.

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Clintons Buy the House Next Door in Chappaqua

shutterstock_329730752Hillary Clinton has her eye on the White House, but she’s also thinking about her Chappaqua home. She and her little-known husband, Bill, just paid $1.16 million for the house next door, effectively creating a Kennedy-esque, albeit not waterfront, compound in the lush environs of upstate New York.

The 3,631-square-foot home, which formerly belonged to architect Charles Chepigin, has 3 bedrooms and 4 baths – just enough space for daughter Chelsea and her growing family to enjoy when they visit.

Set on 1.5 acres next to the 1889 farmhouse that the Clintons bought near the end of Bill’s presidency, the renovated ranch home features an open floor plan with pecan hardwood floors. There’s a chef’s kitchen with an eating area that’s reminiscent of the White House kitchen table that was the center of the Clintons’ family life in the 1990s.

The master suite boasts a renovated bathroom, two spacious walk-in closets and French doors that open onto gracious grounds with a swimming pool surrounded by low stone walls. Across the expansive yard and behind trees that are just turning autumn colors stands a tall white fence that surrounds the couple’s original property.

The Clintons also own a home near the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The listing for their newest home was held by Douglas Elliman.

Photos courtesy of Trulia.

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Jackie O's Childhood Estate in the Hamptons Lists for $39M

Just down the road from the famous “Grey Gardens” home where Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ reclusive cousins once lived sprawls the century-old Hamptons estate where she summered as a child. Dubbed Lasata, the property belonged to Onassis’ paternal grandparents.

When fashion designer Reed Krakoff and his interior designer wife, Delphine, bought Lasata in 2007, it had not been renovated in decades. “Vintage wallpaper and vintage plumbing,” Delphine told Architectural Digest earlier this year, evoking memories of those cousins, whose Grey Gardens estate was finally revamped by journalists Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.

The Krakoffs took on Lasata as people who are “drawn to places that scare everyone else away,” Delphine said. She relished the time Martha Stewart walked through a refinished Lasata and “asked if we’d done anything.” The restoration was that lovingly dedicated to the Arts and Crafts original, with plaster walls instead of Sheetrock, and damaged floors replaced by centuries-old oak boards to retain “that creaky feeling.”

The former Bouvier estate encompasses a 10-bedroom main house, a 1-bedroom guesthouse, and a 2-bedroom pool house, and is offered for $38.995 million with listing agent Susan Breitenbach of The Corcoran Group. The co-listing agent is Peter M. Turino of Brown Harris Stevens. An adjacent property with a sunken tennis court is listed at $14.995 million; together they span some 11 acres.

Built in 1917, the main home is light and airy, with walls of windows done Hamptons-style: traditional and with casements and French doors opening to the outdoors.

Floor-to-ceiling bookcases line one entire wall of the formal dining room — perhaps a seed that grew into Onassis’ talent for decorating with stacks of books. The old-style country kitchen features a farmhouse sink and metal countertops where you can imagine a young Jackie whipping up an afternoon snack.

The master suite boasts a fireplace, a sitting room and stunning views onto the grounds, which have been landscaped to be “less Victorian” and with more cedars, lindens and rhododendrons.

Photos by Jake Rajs.

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Peek Inside a Candy-Colored Mid-Century Modern Throwback

Here, on Pinocchio Drive in Dallas’ Disney Streets neighborhood, dreams of the ’50s really do come true.

A pink Cadillac sometimes sits in the driveway, while a turquoise doorway awaits the dedicated mid-century modern homeowner. Inside is an open floor plan with a central brick fireplace, slick white floor tiles and “Jetsons”-style furnishings.

Pendant lamps in all shapes and sizes hang from the ceiling, while sliding glass doors open from living spaces and bedrooms onto a covered lanai, a sunny deck and a curvy swimming pool.

Vaulted ceilings and exposed beams mingle in a well-mixed nostalgia cocktail with original cabinetry, vintage pink appliances and Formica countertops.

The home launched big as part of the neighborhood’s 1954 Parade of Homes, and it’s now on the market for $665,000 with Ed Murchison of Virginia Cook Realtors. Hat tip to Curbed for finding this beauty.

Photos by Shoot2Sell.

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10 Tips for Renting with a Roommate

Living alone certainly has its perks, but sometimes it’s just difficult to afford it.

Having a roommate often gets a bad reputation, but it can also make a nicer, more spacious place affordable if there are two (or more) people on the lease.

If you’ve signed on to live with a roommate, here are 10 tips for harmonious cohabitation.

1. Set the ground rules

Whether you have known your roommate for your entire life or you’re just meeting each other, it’s important to set down some ground rules for your living arrangement at the very beginning. Everyone has different needs and wants from their home life, and it’s important that you respect each other’s desires as much as possible.

Some topics that you might want to cover include how you and your roommate feel about pets, and what level of cleanliness both of you prefer. You can’t be the perfect roommate all the time, but you can try to honor each other’s preferences.

2. Know his schedule and respect it

Discuss what kind of schedule you each keep. It could be the complete opposite of yours – say, if he’s in school or works at night and you are working a regular 9-to-5 job.

Try to be mindful of his sleep and work schedule when you want to bust out the guitar or watch a movie with surround sound. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells when you’re at home, but just be courteous as much as you can, and hopefully he will return the favor.

3. Know who will pay for what

The most potentially contentious part of living with someone else is figuring out who pays for what in rent, bills, and groceries. It’s important to establish these payments as soon as possible so that one person doesn’t get completely burdened and resentful.

Usually roommates will split the rent down the middle. But if there are three of you or you have the master bedroom, it may not be as simple as a 50/50 split.

Once you determine how much each person will pay, it’s important to establish how you will pay. Is your landlord expecting one check or auto-draft, or are multiple payments acceptable?

If it’s one payment for the unit, then establish who will pay the landlord. Also make sure that roommates are exchanging money in a timely manner so that one person doesn’t have a huge dip in his or her bank account.

When it comes to bills, either determine that they will all be in one person’s name and then split the bill, or have each roommate responsible for a different utility.

Also, be sure to set some ground rules on groceries. Will the food be communal, or will you each buy your snacks separately?

The earlier you establish the routines for everyday life, the happier the home.

4. Don’t use her things without asking

Even if you’re incredibly close and you have known each other for years, you should still give your roommate the courtesy of asking if you can borrow her hair dryer or clothes or laundry soap.

Assuming that whatever is hers is yours is a huge mistake when it comes to living with someone else. You might come from a family where sharing is just part of life, but this practice might be completely offensive to your roommate. It’s always best to ask – just in case.

5. Set a chore schedule

There’s nothing worse than a roommate who piles dirty dishes in the sink and watches someone else clean them.

To avoid being that roommate, establish a loose chore schedule to follow. Maybe it’s always your job to take out the garbage, and your roommate’s responsibility to empty the dishwasher.

Do whatever makes sense for both of you, and just generally be sure to clean up after yourself. It’ll make for a happier household in the long run.

6. Be courteous about company

It’s only natural that you should want to invite your friends over to hang out or watch a movie, but you should always check with your roommate first. This is even true if you share a lot of mutual friends.

You definitely want to avoid having your roommate come home to a house full of people when all she wants to do is curl up and read a book. If your roommate isn’t keen on you having people over that often, be sure to come to a compromise and promise that you’ll keep it down so that she’s not disturbed in her room.

7. Keep it down while he sleeps

This goes without saying, but be sure to be quiet while your roommate is sleeping. If you’re a night owl, but your roommate is an early riser, be mindful of his sleep schedule, and be respectful while having friends over or playing loud music or games.

Common courtesy is, once again, the name of the game when it comes to roommates.

8. Be friendly

You may be the perfect roommate on paper: You take out the trash, you do the dishes, you’re quiet when you need to be quiet. But being a really great roommate also involves having a good relationship with the person you share your home with.

When your roommate comes home and has had a bad day, offer to listen to his or her complaints and open up a bottle of wine. When you know she’s had a stressful week, offer to cook her dinner. Your home should be your safe space, and the person you live with should only contribute to that feeling.

9. Communicate if/when you’re coming home

When you live with someone, it’s always a good idea to check in with that person when you know you won’t be coming home, or if you’ll be coming home particularly late.

Not only is it good to be accountable, but if you were ever hurt or in danger, your roommate would know immediately that something wasn’t right and could notify your family if you were in any trouble.

10. Spend time together

Though you and your roommate aren’t technically family, you are a unit living together in one home. It’s important for the harmony of the household that you get along so you can open up the lines of communication if you ever have a conflict.

Suggest that you and your roommate have a scheduled time to watch Netflix together, or team up to make dinner one evening. Even though you may have separate lives and different interests, there’s nothing like bonding over binge-watching “Stranger Things” or old episodes of “Friends.”

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Leonardo DiCaprio Asks $10.95M for Malibu Beach House

shutterstock_123490156This Malibu beach house is the antidote to all your stressors, whether they entail cubicle jockeying, meeting wrangling or bear wrestling. Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has a bunch of that out of his system, he’s put this gem on the market for $10.95 million.

The Oscar winner bought the 1950 oceanfront home back in 1998, and it’s often cited as the home of his mother. Last year, it was listed as a rental for $23,000 a month, as the Los Angeles Times noted.

Although DiCaprio has held onto this home for nearly two decades, the actor is not shy about shifting real estate. He rented out his Palm Springs compound last year, and a few years ago sold even pricier digs in Malibu.

He’s also not averse to remodeling, having transformed this beachside bungalow into a gated, 3-bedroom, 2-bath extravaganza. It boasts upstairs and downstairs decks with transparent guardrails that ensure stunning Pacific Ocean views from far inside the home. The lower deck also features a hot tub ideal for melting away those aforementioned stressors.

An elegantly decorated interior includes hardwood floors, herringbone tile in the kitchen, and sliding walls of glass.

A short staircase leads to Carbon Beach, which stretches from the Malibu Pier to Santa Monica, and is known locally as “Billionaire’s Beach.”

The listing agent is Katie Bentzen of Partners Trust.

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New Buyer Bound to 'Fifty Shades' Penthouse

For a tantalizing few moments earlier this week, the condo that inspired Christian Grey’s home in the Fifty Shades Trilogy was on the market for $8.8 million — and it’s every bit as dazzling as the Hollywood version.

You can almost picture Anastasia Steele slipping into something darker in the Seattle penthouse’s master suite and taking in the 280-degree views from the Space Needle across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains.

For maximum exposure, the home boasts floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every room, including beside the sleekly designed soaking tub.

A deal was whipped together in one day for the 5,170-square-foot penthouse, whose listing agent is Scott Wasner, founding director of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Fifty Shades” author E.L. James visited the 3-bedroom, 4-bath penthouse when she was in Seattle several years ago, and told the owners that online listing photos of their condo had inspired Grey’s home. She added special touches, like the helipad and the infamous red room.

Photos by Emery Studios.

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House of the Week: A Glimmering Castle in Vermont

Towering over the hills of Vermont, this modern-day castle shimmers with a mica-filled granite that’s known locally as glimmerstone. The sparkle carries indoors with hundreds of windows that cause the sun to “play almost like music on the walls,” said owner Michael Graham.

Graham and his wife, Elizabeth, designed and built this castle, which they and friends dubbed “The Frat House” when they started, but which eventually took on the more stately name of “Grahall.” It’s on the market for $4.3 million with listing agent David Donegan of the Snyder Donegan Real Estate Group.

Set on 240 acres, the estate backs up to 2,000 acres of wildlife preserve, offering stunning views from almost any angle. With nearly 8,000 square feet, the mansion encompasses 7 bedrooms and 6 baths — plus a six-story hidden spiral staircase that’s “just magical for our daughters,” Graham said.

“It’s a creative space, with round doors, square doors, round rooms, tall rooms and short rooms — and the light is different almost every hour of the day,” he said. “It makes a person question, ‘What’s a house?’”

Photos by Jim Mauchly.

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Tina and Ike Turner's Former Home on the Market

Tina Turner left a good house in the city, and after all these years, it’s back on the market — looking a lot like the year is still 1977. That’s when the current owner bought it from the iconic singer and her first husband, Ike, as the famous couple was divorcing.

The listing, for $999,000, says the 4-bedroom, 4-bath Los Angeles home was featured in the 1993 movie “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

The mid-century modern exterior conceals a festival of harvest gold and velvet inside. Enter through double front doors adorned with handles that are sculpted in the shape of Buddhist hand gestures – probably installed for Turner, who turned to Buddhism while she was still married to Ike.

The master bedroom is a study in ’70s disco living, with velvet flocked wallpaper and a two-tiered platform covered with scarlet carpet and topped by a round master bed — which the owner told Curbed Los Angeles was there when she bought the home. The bed is a scene all its own, with multi-colored overhead lighting, heavy cream curtains on three sides, and a wall of mirrors on the fourth.

The mirror on the family room ceiling is simply the best, outmatched only by an indoor waterfall and a wet bar with a built-in fish tank. The kitchen has what the listing calls “clean ’60s lines,” plus an avocado-colored dishwasher and a pass-through window to the living room, which boasts a stone fireplace.

“Ready to restore to its glory days!” promises the listing by Ken Conant of Re/Max Estate Properties.

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